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Christmas Food around the World

December Holidays
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Like many holiday traditions, Christmas food varies from culture to culture. While most celebrations of this December holiday involve some form of feast or large family meal, the dishes that are served vary with geography and cultural background. In the U.S., many families prepare traditional turkey dinners, while others have branched out in many different directions, drawing on their own cultural and ethnic backgrounds to fashion meals both unique and nostalgic. Here’s a look at some of the many Christmas food traditions served up annually around the globe.

  • Philippines: In the Philippines, the big holiday meal is traditionally served on Christmas Eve and is a family affair. The centerpiece of Filipino Christmas food traditions is typically a Christmas ham, although more affluent families might serve a spit-roasted pig or roast turkey instead. Accompanying the meat are traditional celebratory dishes such as a spicy beef stew, cheese, fruit salad, and a traditional hot cocoa make from locally grown cacao beans.
  • Chile: Since Chile is south of the equator, Christmas falls during the heat of the summer. Thus, many Chileans forgo the traditional hot turkey dinner in favor of barbeque complemented with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetable salads. Seafood is also commonly served at Christmastime.
  • South Africa: Unlike Chile, despite the heat, many South Africans go for a traditional turkey dinner. Many families follow English traditions, serving all the trimmings to accompany the poultry centerpiece.
  • Norway: Given its proximity to the sea, it’s not surprising that Norwegian’s Christmas meals often feature seafood such as cod, haddock, and lutefisk. Further inland, the main dish is often pork chops, Christmas meatloaf, and special holiday sausages.
  • Jamaica: Jamaicans traditionally serve up Christmas foods that draw from the culinary delights of their island culture. Included at Christmas dinner are rice and gungo peas, and meats that might include ox tail or curried goat.
  • Germany: Most Germans stick with a traditional roast goose dinner at Christmastime. This is typically served with lots of root and cold-weather veggies, such as potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and parsnips.
  • Mexico: Food and cultural traditions vary from region to region in Mexico, and this is reflected in the Christmas food traditionally served. Tamales are a popular Christmas dish in northern Mexico, while stews such as posole and menudo are served elsewhere.

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